Yesterday afternoon we decided to take a driving tour of the northern lower peninsula and the Lake Huron coast. We’ve been on the east coast of the state once since we moved here over two years ago, and we didn’t really even get out of the car. Since it was such a steamy day, we didn’t do too much adventuring, but even so, we ran across a few gems.
Obviously the Mackinac Bridge is awesome. It took some doing, but we finally found the beach we drove out onto during our first trip up here in June ’08. Parking is available now, but you can still pull right out onto the pebbles to take in the view.
Also, there’s a lighthouse about 0.1 miles away from the beach. At first we felt foolish for having missed it four years ago, but it must’ve been tucked away behind some trees; they re-opened it in ’09.
Down in Cheboygan, we walked along the beach – which only had one other group of people on it – over to the little crib light. Stationed right next to the Cheboygan River, it’s a beacon to boats like the huge Coast Guard behemoth below. Unless they already have full-fledged lighthouses, all breakwalls should have baby lighthouses.
Continuing downstate, we stopped at the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, so named because it’s 40 miles southeast of Old Mackinaw Point and 40 miles northwest of Thunder Bay. The site was a little kitschy, decorated with red, white, and blue bunting, but it did happen to be shrouded in light fog (thanks to a sun shower that we missed), so that kind of made up for the cheap plastic triangles dangling here and there.
Just as we finished snapping photos, we spotted a sign point to a shipwreck. Who can resist that? The remains sit right on the beach, couched in sand. The wood, metal rods, and spikes are all that’s left above ground of one of the first freighters for carrying iron ore in the Great Lakes. The Fay ran ashore in 1905 during a fight with violent storms. Fortunately (can you say “fortunately” in a case like this??), almost everyone on board made it out alive. The first mate died while swimming through the freezing waters. On days like today, it’s hard to imagine the savagery of the lakes in a fall storm. Having seen some of those storms, it’s even harder to understand how folks find the courage to go out in that weather.
We had dinner in Rogers City at a small place that far surpassed our expectations. We chatted with our waitress who directed us to the quarry where they load calcite onto freighters. We watched a cloudy, oddly industrial sunset over the machinery before heading back home.
At about 9:00pm, we drove past a sign reading Ocqueoc (ah-key-ock) Falls. Given that it was about half an hour past sunset, we didn’t have great expectations. There were no signs to indicate that we were not about to embark upon an 11-mile hike, but we were pretty sure we could hear the falls from the parking lot. With only a five-foot drop, they’re not the most dramatic falls I’ve seen, but they are the largest falls in the lower peninsula. Entirely unexpected and bathed in moonlight – not the worst way to discover a place 🙂